Julian and his work need little introduction. The creator of the viral ‘Dumb Ways to Die’ campaign (which has had over 246 million YouTube views to date) , Julian has achieved acclaim as a director, illustrator, author, and animator. His signature comedic styling and distinctive design have made him a favourite with brands and agencies alike.
Julian: describe what you do.
To sneak mercenaries (brand messages) into a castle (consumer's mind) you must build a big wooden horsey (write an ad) and hire someone to paint a cute face on it (me).
What are two of your favourite pieces of (your own) work, and why?
Bananas It's full of absurd little jokes but the bigger joke is that a large amount of time and skill went into making something so utterly pointless.
Argh! There's a skeleton inside you! In this case a large amount of time went into making something that I hope is a tiny bit helpful for the kids who read it. That's pretty much the dichotomy with my personal work - either idiotic or educational.
Who else’s work do you admire?
Brian Eno seemed to have a real knack for helping artists see their own work in new and deeper ways, and so often they'd go on to make their most interesting stuff. Thinking cleverly about art while letting other people do all the work, what a very smart fellow.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Engineering jokes is satisfying to me. Fine-tuning each element, from design to facial expressions to timing, to give an animated gag the maximum impact. It's like sneaking up on someone in the right costume and leaping out and saying boo at the right moment to give them the biggest possible fright. Jokes are a sort of fun fright I suppose.
If you like taking three days to tell a 5 second joke then you too may enjoy making comedic animation.
If you weren’t a director, what would you be doing instead?
My skill set was completely useless in every other time in human history so I'm assuming my ancestors were mostly frustrated peasants. Thank goodness I live now!